Historic story of former town cage used to imprison people

A wooden model of Thetford’s ‘Cage’ building at Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life. Picture: ANCI

A wooden model of Thetford’s ‘Cage’ building at Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life. Picture: ANCIENT HOUSE MUSEUM OF THETFORD LIFE - Credit: Archant

Each month, Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life picks an object which tells a story about the town’s past. This month, it is a wooden model of Thetford’s ‘Cage’ building.

This wooden model is of Thetford’s ‘Cage’ building, once used for imprisoning and punishing people.

It stood in Cage Lane on what is now the site of the Carnegie Rooms.

The Cage was later dismantled and rebuilt in its current location on the other side of the street when the Carnegie Rooms were built in the late 1960s.

The model was made by H.E Gooch in 1921 and given to the museum in 1976.


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Inside there is a model of the wooden stocks that were used to restrain people, and a Mr Punch doll held captive.

An accompanying letter with the model states that: “Punch was chosen as the subject so that he would be anonymous and no-one could say the figure was like so-and-so.”

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For some time the whereabouts of the town’s original wooden stocks were a mystery. The museum has several letters dating from the 1920s from people enquiring about their location. However, when the model and accompanying letter were donated to the museum in 1976 this mystery was solved.

The letter notes that: “When the old ‘Town Hall’ was altered the stocks were sold on the market.

“However, at a handicraft exhibition in the now Guildhall…the late Mr. W. Fison told me they were in Mr Barclay’s park in Norwich.

“Then eventually the stocks were returned to the town and placed in their original place in the cage.”

This model will be on display in the upcoming Handmade exhibition, which opens on Saturday, December 16.

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